Biden speaks with Xi Jinping in first US-China phone call since 2022


WASHINGTON – President Biden discussed the potential “divestiture” of TikTok during a Tuesday phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping — as Xi warned Biden against tripping a “red line” over Taiwan policy.

The sensitive topics were among the leading points in the private conversation, according to readouts from officials on both sides.

“The president reiterated our concerns about the ownership of TikTok,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at the regular White House briefing.

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone for the first time in nearly two years in an attempt to quash some of the raging tensions between the two nations. AP

“He made it clear to President Xi this was not about a ‘ban’ of the application but rather our interest in divestiture so that the national security interests and the data security of the American people can be protected.”

The Chinese-owned platform is one of the most popular social media applications in the US, particularly among younger Americans, and may be forcibly pried away from owner ByteDance through legislation.

The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill last month to force ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months or face a US ban — and Biden has pledged to make it law if it clears the Senate.

“[Biden] brought it up with President Xi,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“The president has always been very clear about his concerns and he’s been very public about that: there is a real threat posed by certain technology services operating in the US that put at risk Americans’ personal information.”

Jean-Pierre said Biden’s concerns include “manipulation” of content displayed by TikTok, which the president’s re-election campaign actively uses despite his professed concerns.

In a break from most of his fellow Republicans, former President Donald Trump opposes the TikTok legislation on the grounds that a ban would increase the power of US platforms such as Facebook to censor politically sensitive content.

Xi and Biden previously met in November near San Francisco and discussed a litany of other topics Tuesday, though the precise details were not fully described in readouts.

The Chinese government’s readout said that Xi stressed that the “Taiwan question is the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” without elaboration.

The relatively curt description of the call by Beijing said Xi also said that “the measures by the US side to suppress China’s trade and technology development are not ‘de-risking,’ but creating risks.”

The two leaders discussed TikTok and its effect on national security interests and the data security of the American people. REUTERS

“President Xi also stated China’s position on Hong Kong-related issues, human rights, the South China Sea, and other issues,” the Chinese statement said.

Beijing is particularly sensitive to the perception of any US support for formal Taiwanese…



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